Jim Maynard receives Emmy® nomination as producer of educational videos

Jim Maynard. Photo credit: Therese Besser

by Kimberly M. Hazen

For his role in producing a children’s science demonstration series, Department of Chemistry Lecture Demonstrator Jim Maynard has secured an Emmy® nomination from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS). 

Maynard, a bachelor of science graduate from the UW–Madison Department of Chemistry Class of 2000 has served as the department’s lecture demonstrator since January 2001 and has passionately advanced the Wisconsin Idea with his support of the outreach mission of the Department of Chemistry and the University. “The main job in the early days of the position was to prepare, perform, and clean up chemical lecture experiments used to make chemistry real for the students and public in general,” explains Maynard. “My favorite part of the job has always been fulfilling the mission of the Wisconsin Idea, and having my own lab.” As a part of these efforts, Maynard was a guest and contributor to many campus and public outreach programs most notably the UW–Madison Annual Christmas Lecture Once Upon a Christmas Cheery in the Lab of Shakhashiri produced by Department of Chemistry Emeritus Professor Bassam Shakhashiri. 

Jim Maynard in the lab demonstrating a chemical reaction for students.

The series, “Out-Of-The-Box Science with Jeff”–a collaboration between the company Generation Genius and the National Science Teachers Association– was nominated in the Outstanding Interactive Media category. Maynard, named as producer of the series, collaborated with Generation Genius founder and CEO Jeff Vinokur. Vinokur is also a graduate of the UW–Madison, with an undergraduate degree in biochemistry. “I mostly helped find safe alternatives to some of the classic demonstration reagents,” states Maynard. As the chemistry home kits presented a challenge to make the experiments work under the milder conditions, Maynard and Vinokur collaborated to find new and safer alternatives. Maynard created new experiments such as using Hemin instead of copper as a catalyst for a Luminol Chemiluminescence experiment since the use of sodium hydroxide would not be possible under these milder conditions.

The NATAS announced the nominations for the 2nd Annual Children’s & Family Creative Arts Emmy® Award in November 2023 and named the winners in a recent ceremony held at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.

While not a winner, Maynard muses about the nomination, “It was a surprise to be included in the nomination, but if I had won a trophy, I would have walked around the building with it.” 

It’s estimated that Maynard has performed chemical demonstrations for well over 100,000 UW-Madison and other students during his career. He has received awards including the Chancellor’s Excellence Award for Service to the University, the Academic Staff Mid-Career Excellence Award from UW–Madison College of Letters and Science, the Mid-Career Award for Excellence in Performance of Duties at UW Madison College of Letters and Science, the J.W. Taylor Pharmacia Excellence in Teaching of Chemistry and Instructional Leadership award, and the Chemluminary Award issued by the American Chemical Society for the most innovative hands-on activity or demonstration-large schools division. 

Maynard serves as the advisor to the UW–Madison’s chapter of Alpha Chi Sigma, a chemistry fraternity established in 1902 by UW-Madison chemistry students. The organization now has collegiate and professional chapters throughout the United States numbering more than 78,000 members. Maynard’s efforts in securing a new house for the Alpha Chapter of Alpha Chi Sigma have been largely successful, but fundraising for the project continues.